The 911R might have a namesake in the latest 991, but its most direct descendent was born in California…
356 outlaw specialist Rod Emory builds himself a 911R-style coupé
Built in low numbers and now sold at stratospheric prices, race-bred Porsches have become as inaccessible to most of us as they are achingly desirable. But the no-frills engineering that won races and found these cars homes in the worldʼs most exclusive collections have inspired more than wish lists. Theyʼve laid the foundations for a new generation – bespoke hot rods, reinterpreting decades-old ideas with the advantage of technology the factory could only have dreamed of.
Even in a long list of homologation specials, the 911R has always felt a cut above. It might not be the fastest car to wear the badge, but this lightweight, road-legal racer reflects the 911 in its purest form – compact, naturally-aspirated and incredibly direct to drive. Stripped down to its most essential parts and fitted with glassfibre panels, it was almost a quarter lighter than a 911S, while its 2.0-litre, twin-spark, dualWebered engine was close to that of the 906, and made 210bhp. Only 24 were ever built, including prototypes and Porscheʼs own racers – itʼs the perfect package, but one that few have had a chance to experience first hand.
But you can come close. Restored at Emory Motorsports
in California, what youʼre looking at here isnʼt one of the 24, but itʼs certainly cut from the same cloth. For shop owner, Rod Emory, itʼs bringing a little of that 1966 design brief back to life: ʻItʼs raw, loud, obnoxious, and absolutely thrilling,ʼ he enthuses, as the warm mechanical parts ʻtink-tinkʼ themselves cool. ʻEverything is lightweight, itʼs a street-legal race car through and through, just like the GT3 RS. Itʼs a combination of awesome that you can enter into road rally events, or for vintage racing, but also drive every day.ʼ
Some of the inspiration behind it goes back even further than 1966. A third-generation hot-rodder, Rodʼs grandfather had a shop not far from this spot before being recruited by a Porsche dealer; itʼs a clash of automotive cultures he would pass on to his son. And while the local Porsche scene of the 1980s revolved around faithful factory-spec restorations of the 356, Rod and his dad were pioneering a new style; removing bumpers, fitting wide wheels, big engines and adding race numbers. Impeccably built, but designed to be driven hard, those ʻoutlawʼ cars would become a hot-rod household name.
Thatʼs a legacy Rod has kept up. Emory Motorsports opened its doors in 1996, home to the tools and talent to
take on concours-spec restorations, but with the imagination to go so much further.
ʻWe only take on the work of building outlaws and specials for clientele who understand and appreciate what we do,ʼ he explains. ʻWe have the ability to do concours-quality restorations but that type of work really doesnʼt interest us, and there are so many other fine shops who already do that.ʼ
Itʼs a prolific bloodline. Generations of the Emory family have built around 150 356 outlaws since the early 1980s, with a natural progression more recently into early 911s. Itʼs an evolution of a tested – but always unique – formula which throws up some familiar hurdles, as well as a load of new opportunities.
ʻThe 911 offers just as much creative flexibility as a 356, but without the need to modify the chassis for later model suspension components like we do with our 356s. Weʼve built ten 911s so far, and itʼs such a wonderful platform – weʼve even blended a 964 chassis with a 356 body to make the worldʼs first all-wheel drive 356. In the early cars, like this, weʼre finding the same rust and damage weʼre used to encountering in the 356s.ʼ
This is, at its core, a restoration, not a surfacelevel tune-up. All outlaws get stripped back to a bare ʼshell to check for rust and hidden damage and, despite spending most of its life in a damp
“THIS IS, AT ITS CORE, A RESTORATION…”
part of Oregon, this ʼ67 S had fared well. Not that much of the original bodywork is left – the wings, bumpers and bonnet are glassfibre, paired with a later-spec aluminium decklid to bring it close to the Baur-built bodywork of the 911R. A homage completed by the correct twin-pod tail lights, the external oil filler cap on the right hand rear wing, and alloy-capped fuel filler neck cut into the centre of the bonnet.
Finding those parts can be tough, says Rod: “Thereʼs usually about 10 per cent of the car that has to be made from scratch. Where we can, we always use factory original parts to build these cars or the best possible reproduction panels and components. Thereʼs always a fair amount of time perfecting the fit of every aspect of the exterior and interior.ʼ
That nine-month restoration of the bodywork ran in parallel with putting the right parts underneath; larger sway bars and torsion bars, an Elephant Racing front strut brace and removable roll bar inside, all a little closer to the Tarmac than Porsche intended thanks to adjustable Koni suspension. Even the staggered six- and seven-inch wide Fuchs wheels, restored by Californian specialist Harvey Weidman, are 100 per cent correct 911R spec.
ʻEach car ʼs features have to make sense as a package,ʼ explains Rod. ʻSome items may be slightly anachronistic but, as we design, we ask ourselves whether Porsche would have built something like this. The answer to that always has to be yes, based on the broad range of experience my family has racing and restoring works competition cars.ʼ
The engine rebuild was one of the few parts of the project not undertaken in-house. Rod knows specialists who can tackle areas outside their usual expertise, and called in renowned engine builder Dick Elverude to put together an
alternative to the Rʼs race-derived 901/22 engine. Itʼs a slight deviation, a twin-plug engine displacing 2.5-litres instead of 2.0-litres, which puts out 230bhp through a close-ratio gearset and limited-slip differential.
ʻThose original rally cars from the early 1970s were just cool as hell, and so light weight,ʼ he says. ʻThe gross vehicle weight here is around 2200lbs (1000kg) – the experience of driving a normal 911 and a lightweight version is like night and day, especially with the engine that this car has.ʼ
Likewise, the cabin isnʼt quite as deprived of luxuries as that of the 911R. Its windows are still glass, opened with winders rather than leather straps, and all five instrument pods are still present. But thereʼs a real sense of it being built for purpose, with its Rs-style carpet set spread across the stripped rear end, the bare glassfibre dashboard, and period-correct bucket seats and harnesses. After all, this is a reinterpretation, not a replica: ʻThe most difficult part of what we do is making sure that the finished car passes the cool test. Everything has to make sense and the car needs to be “all-business” from every angle. Sometimes the build needs to be tailored as we go because you can see in your mindʼs eye that something isnʼt going to work.ʼ
And this definitely works; lighter than a modern day city car, but with the performance to keep up with modern day supercars, this one-off outlaw is every bit the purest-of-the-pure 911 experience thatʼs made the R so iconic. Who says you have to follow the rules? CP
“COOL AS HELL AND SO LIGHT WEIGHT…”
Above: Looking every inch as slick and purposeful as the original 911R, Emory’s modern day reinterpretation of the factory lightweight is based on a 1967 911S
Above: Dual Hella rear lights are a vital part of the transformation from ‘S’ to ‘R’. Only the lack of louvred Plexiglas quarter windows give the game away
Below, left and right: Dashboard houses early green-lettered gauges mounted beneath a plain glassfibre dash-top moulding. Note original outside air temperature gauge
Below: With only 1000kg to carry round, you just know Emory’s homage to the 911R is going to be a fun drive
Above, left to right: Periodstyle rollbar adds to the effect, as does the through the bonnet fuel filler. 2.5-litre engine pumps out 230bhp
Above Left: Rod Emory comes from a family of hotrodders, so it comes as no surprise to learn he prefers to build outlaws rather than carry out full-on restorations
Below left: Lightweight plastic door handles were a feature of the original 911R
Below: Harvey Weidman is the man responsible for the wheel detailing